Thursday, April 16

Healthy Indulgence – Cocktails For The Body-Conscious

The majority of us probably view cocktails as a delicious indulgence – something to enjoy without giving much of a hoot about the consequences. This ‘slightly sinful’ aspect is a major part of a cocktail’s appeal – they’re alcoholic, they’re calorific, and they have a whiff of sex about them which appeals to our naughty sides [1]. However, what about those of us who are trying to lose weight, are on a health kick, or are just generally uncomfortable with the idea of an unhealthy drink? Should they miss out on the fun? Well, no. Just because you like to take care of yourself doesn't mean that you should give up on the idea of enjoying the odd cocktail. Here’s the truth about the healthiness of cocktails, and some ways to up the ante when it comes to putting goodness in your beverage. 

The Benefits Of Moderation 
Despite what received wisdom would have you believe, alcohol in moderation is actually pretty good for you [2]. Numerous studies have proven beyond doubt that those who regularly drink moderate amounts of alcohol are healthier and live longer than those who completely abstain. There are several reasons for this, including a healthier social life, and the positive effects which reasonable amounts of alcohol have upon circulation, cognitive function, and even (unbelievable though it may seem) your liver. Of course, all of these positive benefits are absolutely wiped out by the deadly effects of regularly overdoing it with the booze [3], so in order to keep yourself in tip-top condition, you have to be sure that your intake stays moderate. Cocktail drinkers may have the edge over drinkers of other beverages in this respect, as the luxurious and eclectic nature of cocktails tends to mean that they are not just chucked down the neck in the way that people do with beer and wine. Cocktails are fun, and are treated with a kind of sophisticated respect and joy which means that intake of alcohol during the cocktails stage of an evening is generally fairly moderate – ensuring that you get all the health benefits of booze with none of the drawbacks. 

Add Some Vitamins 
One of the greatest things about cocktails is their adaptability. You can make them as healthy or as unhealthy as you like. For a cocktail that your body will thank you for, all you have to do is mix it up with some healthy ingredients. Use fruit juice as a base, for example, and add in some delicious natural ingredients as a garnish. Do be careful, though – not all fruit juices are as healthy as they at first appear. Many commercial orange juices, for example, are packed full of sugar and unhealthy preservatives [5], so be sure only to get the best juices from the healthiest sources. Or, even better, purchase a juicer and make your own 0wn healthy mixers, straight from the source [6]. If you’re a bit canny, you can also put healthier spirits into your drinks. Vodka, for example, contains less sugar than bourbon – although it’s often also got a higher alcohol content, so this may be a fine balancing act! Play around with a few recipes, and see what you get! 

Change Your Drinking Strategy 
If you’re concerned about tipping over the ‘moderation’ barrier, or if you generally want to make your drinking experience a bit healthier, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, have something (healthy!) to eat before you start. Having food in your stomach will help your body to digest and process the alcohol in a slower, more regulated manner. It will also make you less likely to stop for something greasy and regrettable on the way home! It’s also a good idea to alternate between cocktails and water. Not only is water absolutely fantastic for your health in a multitude of ways, but it’ll also mitigate the effects of the alcohol to a certain extent, and give your body a helping hand in processing all the interesting new things you’re putting into it. 

...this is an article sent in by our correspondent reporter, Sally Porte


[1] Rhys Alvarado, “Photographer Kelly Puleio finds sex appeal in cocktails”, The Examiner, Sept 2014
[3] Rehab, Health And Wellness
[4] Adee Braun, “Misunderstanding Orange Juice as a Health Drink”, The Atlantic, Feb 2014 
[5] Lakewood Organic, “Organic Pineapple”  
[6] Pleasant Valley Ranch, “California Oranges”